The Marvel Comics History of the Thor vs. Hercules Rivalry

Spoiler Alert

Although they originated in different mythological cultures, the Marvel Comics versions of Thor and Hercules have been Avengers teammates for decades. Although they are rarely on the team at the same time (they usually need just one muscular god on the roster). But although they have fought side-by-side for years, they’ve also had a long-running rivalry too. And traded blows quite often. Why the occasional animosity? Both are headstrong sons of God-Kings, and both can be pure meatheads who love to prove how strong they are. It’s a deadly (yet entertaining) combo. And as the post-credits for Thor: Love and Thunder showed us, it’s a rivalry that may arrive soon to the MCU.

Thor and Hercules clash in their very first meeting.
Marvel Comics

Here’s the Marvel Comics history of the rivalry between the Odinson and the Lion of Olympus.

Journey into Mystery Annual #1 (1965) “When Titans Clash”
Hercules first Marvel Comics appearance, in Journey into Mystery Annual #1 in 1965.
Marvel Comics

In Hercules’ first Marvel Comics appearance, he came across the Thunder God when Thor accidentally stumbled upon Mount Olympus by way of a mystical tunnel. (As one does). The two had their first fight over the dumbest of reasons. It was all about who got to cross a certain bridge first. It’s such a dumb reason in fact, Zeus appeared and made the two quit fighting, shake hands, and go their merry ways. But Hercules proved popular with readers, and was soon back. And making the moves on Thor’s girl.

Thor #126 (1966) “Whom the Gods Would Destroy!”
Thor fights Hercules over the affections of Jane Foster.
Marvel Comics

The next time Thor and Herc clashed, it was when the Thunder God returned to Earth from Asgard and found that Hercules had started making advances on Jane Foster. Although Jane only went to lunch with Herc to make Thor jealous, it sent the Odinson into a rage. One that resulted in the two gods fighting each other on a construction site. But Thor was at a disadvantage, as Odin AllFather had sapped half his strength as punishment for falling for a mortal. Herc won the fight, and a talent scout even recruited him for a series of Hollywood movies about his own life.

Thor #221 (1974) “Hercules Enraged!”
Thor fights Hercules on his home turf of Mount Olympus in Thor #221.
Marvel Comics

After Thor rescued Herc from the Underworld in a series of adventures, the two finally became best buddies. Then as Avengers, they fought side-by-side for years. But this is Marvel Comics, so thanks to a pesky misunderstanding, it was only a matter of time before they came to blows again.

In this story from 1974, Thor was deceived by the Olympian god Pluto, who made him believe that his father Odin was a prisoner of Hercules in the realm of Hades. So, the easily fooled Thor stormed Olympus, and went man a mano with Herc. Luckily, Zeus stopped the battle and informed Thor he’s been tricked. Thanks for steppin’ in Dad!

Thor Annual #5 (1976) “The War of the Gods!”
Flashbacks to Thor and Hercules' rivalry is explored in Thor's 1976 Annual.
Marvel Comics

This special issue flashed back to ancient times, and the earliest days of the Thor vs. Hercules rivalry. Which apparently went back thousands of years before what we believed to be their first meeting, back in 1966. (So this was a textbook Marvel Comics retcon). This flashback story went back to the days when Thor led Vikings into battle against Herc’s worshipping Greek warriors. But of course, the two future Avengers teammates spent a lot of time kicking each other’s butts first.

Thor #356 (1985) “The Power and the Pride”
Hercules brags about his fights with the God of Thunder in Thor #356.
Marvel Comics

This was a more humorous take on the long-standing Thor vs. Herc rivalry, told mainly from the Lion of Olympus’ point of view. When a young bullied boy who looked up to Thor ran into Herc and Jarvis, the Avengers’ butler, Hercules told them a Tall Tale about his last big brawl with Thor. Making himself out to be the easy winner of course. Hercules failed to realized the young boy boy was a massive fan of Thor’s. So he switched up the story, and then made it so Thor looked better. All so as to not hurt the kid’s feelings. Herc was just a big softie.

Avengers #349 (1992) “Death Wager”
A possessed Thor fights Hercules in this '90s Avengers tale.
Marvel Comics

In this Avengers story, Thor (who was sharing a body with the human Eric Masterson at the time) became possessed by the Greek war god Ares. In order to get revenge on his brother Hercules, he attacked him, and it became another legendary Thor vs. Herc rumble. Although this is a possessed Thor, to be fair. It’s still a pretty brutal match-up between the two old rivals.

The Incredible Hercules #136 (2009) “The Replacement Thor”
It's Thorcules vs Hercuthor in this 2000s Hercules comic.
Marvel Comics

One of the more recent fights between the two muscular gods didn’t take place in Thor’s series, but in Herc’s book, The Incredible Hercules. This was during the brief period when Zeus’ son took over The Incredible Hulk comic from Big Green. It’s another light-hearted story, where we saw Herc use Thor’s armor to masquerade as the Son of Odin. He even borrowed his father’s lightning bolts to sell the idea that he was now the God of Thunder. But when the real Thor found out, he dressed up as Herc, and the pair went toe-to-toe. It was “Hercuthor” vs. “Thorcules.” And it was as delightfully ridiculous as it sounded.

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